Kindness of Exmouth community helps find job for Alan, who has spent decades living on the streets
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 May 2018
A man from Exmouth whose social media appeal helped change a homeless person’s life says he is ‘thankful to be part of such a nice community’.
Frankie Rivalde, 25, felt moved to help when he saw Alan Watkins sitting on a bench next to a make-shift sign asking for work.
Posting his picture on the Exmouth Community Facebook page, Frankie was inundated with offers of help, which quickly resulted in work and accommodation for Alan, after decades of living on the streets.
Alan, 54, caught Frankie’s eye while sitting on a bench, in Exmouth town centre next to a cardboard sign that read: “Work wanted, anything considered. 27 years on the streets. I do not beg for your hard-earned money, but do want any job that you need or want doing. £5 per hour. Thank you, Alan.”
Frankie wanted to ‘be as helpful as possible’, which was why he asked Alan’s permission to share a picture of him with the Exmouth community.
He said: “Buying a sandwich would have helped him for two hours, but his approach was so different. It was a really nice message; he doesn’t want to ask for money, he just wants to work and wants a house – like we all want.
“Within two hours of it being on Facebook, he had offers of work and, by 5pm, he got offered a full-time job – it was amazing.
“I love seeing this small community getting together and helping each other. I am so thankful to be a part of a community as nice as ours.”
Alan, who is a skilled carpenter, is now working at Devon Log Stores, in Cheriton Fitzpaine, near Crediton.
Tree surgeon Jerry Andrada Madayag, from Exeter, who helps run the business, said it was ‘absolutely great’ to have him on board.
He posted a picture of Alan on the Exmouth Community page, with a new compost bin he had made, giving a thumbs-up and holding a sign which said: “To the people of Exmouth, thank you for your help and kindness, yours, Alan.”
And Alan’s skills and ideas are helping to develop the carpentry side of the log store in news ways.
Jerry said: “Alan has some great ideas in regards to creating furniture for people with disabilities, for example, to fit wheelchairs. I have made it clear to Alan that, if he would like to be involved with us, then he is welcome.”
Jerry said the whole experience has ‘restored his faith in humanity’ and he applauded Frankie for his kind gesture and Exmouth’s ‘strong’ community. He added: “There’s no need for cynicism and this kind of shows it; the more optimistic people are, it shines through.
“It’s nice to have been part of it and nice to have the community really getting behind us – it’s been great.”